There's nothing like a winner to get people flocking to their television sets.
Okay, that may not be a universal truth. Case in point: the Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC. But generally, fans love winners and right now the surprising Toronto Blue Jays are winning.
Their game with the Oakland A's on Sunday afternoon drew an average of 630,000 viewers to Sportsnet, the biggest audience since the opening week of the season. That's 110,000 more than what the team averaged last year during a season that started with big audiences and finished with mostly friends and relatives watching.
Equally telling was the almost 500,000 who watched the first two games of the A's series on Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 360. Those channels tend to draw smaller audiences, mainly because they have fewer subscribers than the main channel.
Blue Jays fans can be fickle, but there's also a hard core that won't abandon the team under any circumstances. Sort of like Leaf Nation, only smaller and possibly less prone to blind loyalty.
Combine that with casual fans and those who love jumping on band wagons and the Jays could be hitting the ratings heights if they keep this up into the summer.
It was a pretty good weekend all around for Sportsnet. Its Memorial Cup coverage recorded the third-highest average audience (280,000) in the channel's history and the final ranked fourth. The tournament ratings were up 15 per cent over last year and the final was 9 per cent higher than 2013.
Here are the most-watched sports events on English-language television for the past weekend, according to BBM Canada overnight ratings:
|1||NHL||Canadiens at Rangers||Sunday||CBC||4,052,000|
|2||NHL||Canadiens at Rangers||Thursday||CBC||3,562,000|
|3||NHL||Blackhawks at Kings||Saturday||CBC||1,855,000|
|4||MLB||A's at Blue Jays||Sunday||Sportsnet||630,000|
|5||Memorial Cup final||Guelph vs. Edmonton||Sunday||Sportsnet||527,000|
|6||MLB||A's at Blue Jays||Friday||SportsnetOne, 360||494,000|
|7||MLB||A's at Blue Jays||Saturday||SportsnetOne, 360||484,000|
|8||Soccer||Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid||Saturday||Sportsnet||339,000|
|9||Memorial Cup||Edmonton vs. Val D'Or||Friday||Sportsnet||334,000|
|10||NBA||Pacers at Heat||Saturday||TSN||186,000|
|11||Hockey-Worlds||Russia vs. Finland||Sunday||TSN||155,000|
|12||Auto racing||F1 Monaco Grand Prix||Sunday||TSN||152,000|
|13||Hockey-Worlds||Czech vs. Finland||Saturday||TSN||145,000|
|14||NBA||San Antonio at Oklahoma City||Sunday||TSN||144,000|
|15||Auto racing||NASCAR Sprint Cup||Sunday||TSN2||122,000*|
*Fox audience not calculated.
THREE TO WATCH
For the lob of tennis*: If you're a hard-core tennis fan, you've been glued to your couch since Sunday's opening smashes of the French Open. As always, the top names in the game are in Paris, including Canadian hopefuls such as Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard. Coverage starts daily at 5 a.m. ET on TSN2 and at a more civilized 10 a.m. on TSN.
Soccer to me*: The Voyageurs Cup sounds like it's more likely to be awarded to the winners of a canoe race, but in fact there are five Canadian soccer teams fighting to take it home and then represent this country at the CONCACAF Champions League tournament. The second leg kicks off Wednesday with Toronto FC taking on the Montreal Impact (7:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet One.)
Wheelie good time*: With the Tour de France approaching, this is a great time to get yourself in viewing shape to watch endless shots of lycra-covered bottoms peddling across Europe. This is the last week of the month-long bicycling endurance test from Belfast to Trieste, Italy with the Giro d’Italia being crowned Sunday (8:30 a.m., Sportsnet One.)
* Apologies for this week's horrible puns, a tribute to Ron MacLean.